Such is the strength of delusion and habitual tendencies that practicing Dharma might initially seem very hard; but these difficulties will gradually subside. Once you have understood the essential point of the teachings, you will experience no hardship or difficulty with the practice. Your efforts will bring you joy. It is like developing any skill – as you master the important points, it becomes progressively easier, you gain increasing confidence, and your capacity and endeavor keep on growing.
Whatever meditation or reflection you have done, it will never be wasted. The benefit it brings will be present in your mindstream at the time of your death, and will help you be reborn in a place where the Dharma flourishes, near an authentic spiritual teacher. Life after life, you will evolve from a mediocre into an average practitioner into an excellent one. The essence of learning is reflection, and the essence of reflection is meditation. As you go deeper into the meaning of the teachings, the wondrous qualities of the Dharma will become ever clearer, like the sun appearing ever brighter the higher you fly.
The sign that you have fully assimilated your learning of the Dharma is that you become peaceful by nature. The sign that you have assimilated your meditation is that you are free of obscuring emotions. As learning leads to reflection and reflection transforms into meditation, your eagerness for the deluded activities of this life will relax, and you will yearn for the Dharma instead.
Anything you do that is in accord with the Dharma, however small or trivial it may seem, will be beneficial. As the ‘Sutra of the Wise and the Foolish’ says:
Do not take lightly small good deeds,
Believing they can hardly help;
For drops of water one by one
In time can fill a giant pot.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book The Heart of Compassion: The Thirty-seven Verses on the Practice of a Bodhisattva
translated by Padmakara Translation Group
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Further quotes from the book The Heart of Compassion:
- Seeing clearly how deceiving the ways of the world are
- A practice based on your mind
- Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it
- Just projections of the mind
- The only thing that is really worth doing
- Accepting short-term sufferings
- Cutting through subtler misconceptions
- Practice day and night
- The magnifying glass of your faith and devotion
- No more than an empty echo
- Never stop thinking about how to gain liberation
- The children of the buddhas
- The best opportunity to put the teachings into practice
- Powerful sources of help
- Nothing to be grasped
- The reason you are wandering in samsara
- As the Dharma takes birth in your mindstream
- Putting all their energy into spiritual practice
- A firm determination to get out of samsara
- A deep feeling of renunciation